How to Breed Neon Tetras?

Breeding fish comes with a lot of fun. Some fish are really easy to breed, while others require some preparation.

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In this article, I will guide you through the process of breeding neon tetras.

Neon tetras are relative easy to breed, but you need to prepare a few things before.

Selecting a Neon Tetra Pair

Sexing neon tetras can be tricky. The easiest way to tell the difference between males and female neon tetras are their size.

Usually female neon tetras are bigger than males and have a more rounded belly. On top of that, females have a curved blue stripe on their body, while males have a straight blue stripe.

Choose a neon tetra pair, which looks good and healthy.

Male vs Female Neon Tetra 

Male vs Female Neon Tetra

Condition Up Your Fish First

Before breeding your neon tetras, you want to condition them up first.

Place the male and female in separate tanks and feed them food that is high in protein. This will encourage the female to produce eggs.

You can feed them daphnia, blood worms or other food that are high in protein.

You might be able to get good results with dry commercial food, but live food works best for this purpose.

In about a week, you can get your fish will be nice and fat, and full of eggs. At this point, you can place them together in the breeding tank.

Setup the Breeding Tank

For successful breeding, you will want to replicate the habitat of the neon tetras. They come from black water, from the Amazon River, with special water parameters. You want to create this environment.

So, how to setup a neon tetra breeding tank? Here are the things you will need:

You will need a 10 gallon tank, where the neon tetra pair fish will lay the eggs. You should not keep them in a community tank, because eggs and small fry will get eaten.

Place peat soil on the bottom of the tank. Peat soil is necessary, because this will bring the pH level down. Neon tetras can support a range of pH level, but they will only breed in soft water.

Use peat soil that is available in aquarium or reptile shops. Peat from your garden can be full of pesticides or other harmful chemicals, which will cause problems.

You will also need an aquarium heater to keep water temperature stable. You should not use an aquarium filter, because it can suck up the small eggs.

Once the fry become big enough, you can place a sponge filter in the aquarium.

You will also need a good amount of java moss, guppy grass or spawning mop, which is needed for fish to lay their eggs.

The use of Indian almond leaves is not necessary, but is recommended. These leaves release beneficial tenants into the water, which will stop mold or fungi growth on the soil and eggs. Indian almond leaves have anti-fungus and anti-mold properties.

In order to encourage the spawning of your neon tetra pair, you will also need a light source. Use only dimmed light, because they won’t spawn in very strong light.

Breeding Tank Water Conditions

Water conditions are the key when breeding neon tetras. They will only spawn, if the conditions are right.

Make sure, that the water temperature is around 77 °F (25 °C) and is stable. The pH range should be 5.5 to 6.

You should pour a mix of dechlorinated water and aquarium water from established tank in your breeding tank.

The peat soil will decrease the pH level of the water. Test the water pH, before placing your breeding pair into the tank.

Spawning Neon Tetras

After the male and female neon tetra is conditioned, you can place them in the breeding tank you just setup. Make sure that pH and temperature is right, so they can start laying the eggs.

Neon tetras will usually lay about 50 to 150 eggs in one spawn. The hatch rate and fertilization of the eggs may vary, but usually you can expect about 40 to 50 fry from one spawn.

They will usually spawn their eggs in the morning, so if you want to watch them spawning, just stay around the breeding tank after the lights turn on.

Once the spawning is complete, you should remove the adults from the breeding tank. This is necessary, because adults will eat their fry.

How Long Does it Take for Neon Tetra Eggs to Hatch?

It takes about 24 hours for the neon tetra eggs to hatch. The fry are very small and completely transparent.

What to Feed Baby Neon Tetras?

Once, the eggs hatch, the neon tetra fry will still feed on the egg sack for a while. After they become free swimming, you will need to feed them live food.

Neon tetra fry are so small, that they can’t eat microworms, baby brine shrimp or other baby fish food. So you will need to feed them something smaller.

Infusoria culture is a great choice to feed small fry, including neon tetras or even bettas.

These infusoria cultures take about a week before you can use them, so make sure that you have them available when needed.

Infusoria is very important for the fry, so they can survive and grow to size, where they can eat other fish food.

Starting Infusoria Culture

I wrote a detailed article about how to start an infusoria culture, but here will give you a quick guide.

What is actually an infusoria culture? Infusoria is a mix of small creatures and microorganism that thrive in an infusion.

You can start an infusoria culture really easy, just pour boiling water over vegetable matter in a small jar. You can use vegetables such as lettuce, green beans or green peas.

Once the water is cooled down, add water from already established aquarium and put the jar on a window sill and wait about a week.

The water will turn cloudy, which is absolutely normal, due to growing bacteria population. Once the water start clearing, you can be confident, that the culture is good.

After a week, the infusoria culture is ready to be feed to your free swimming fry.

Here is a great video guide on how to setup infusoria culture:

The infusoria culture might smell bad at the beginning, so make sure you place it in a place, where the semell doesn’t bother you.

Feed infusoria to your small fry 2-3 times a day. If the belly of neon tetra fry starts growing, you will know that they eat he infusoria.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, breeding neon tetras is not very hard. If you pay attention to the small details, you can have a successful breeding operation and you can end up with a lot of healthy neon tetra fry.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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